Hints and Tips for Writing a Good Scholarship Application
The best way to complete a scholarship application is to give yourself plenty of time!
General Hints and Tips
- You are not limited to applying for one scholarship. Its a good idea to apply for any scholarship which you are eligible for and meets your needs.
- Make HARD COPIES of every document you will be sending in, just in case something gets lost along the way.
- Complete your application in full, making sure EVERY question is answered!
- If you are unsure about how to apply or what to include with your application, contact the relevant scholarships office by telephone or email.
- Find out about who is offering the scholarship and how they look to support the community. This can be particularly useful if the scholarship provider is a corporate body, foundation or company and will help you to determine the right approach to take in your application.
- Last but not least, review the sub-headings below to help you with the finer details of your application.
Writing - it's all in the detail
Your application will contain questions that are actually asking multiple questions. For example:
How has your financial situation affected your education to date and your ability to undertake University study?
What are your goals upon completing your study and long term? If you are awarded the scholarship how will this support you in achieving these goals?
It's important that you understand what each question is really asking you. Breaking down the question into its smaller parts and underlining keywords can help you to stay on point and provide an answer full of information which the institution is interested in.
- Check how long each response should be and keep the length of your answers as close to the word count as possible. It is hard to make a good impression if you write a lot less than what is expected.
- Too many big, fancy words are likely to detract from your application. Use language that is formal, but that you are comfortable using at the same time.
- Re-read your application and make sure you have answered the questions properly. Edit any spelling mistakes and poor grammar! If you make a lot of changes, re-read it again (random fact - most typos come during the editing stage). Ask someone from school, a friend or family member to read over your application with a fresh pair of eyes.
Be aware of eligibility and selection criteria
To be considered for a scholarship, you must meet its selection criteria.
Only apply for the scholarship if you meet the criteria.
If a scholarship does not appear to have any selection criteria, contact the university or institution offering the scholarship to confirm it suits your situation and your needs.
To prove to the university or institution that you meet their criteria, you will be asked to provide evidence. It is vital that your copies of these documents are up to date! Here are some common examples of the evidence required:
- Latest school records
- ATAR/OP scores
- Documents from the Department of Human Services (Centrelink/Family Assistance) to reflect ABSTUDY/AUSTUDY/Youth Allowance/ Parenting Payments
- Documents provided by an Indigenous community organisation to help the university or institution understand how you identify as having Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage
Many scholarship applications can be completed online, usually directly through the university/institution's website or through the relevant Tertiary Admissions Centre.
Most online application processes require you to set up a user account. You are then able to save applications and any documents you upload within your account, meaning you may be able to reuse information you have already uploaded without having to start all over for each application you submit through that provider.
Handy Hint: An online application can be saved as you go i.e. don't rush and don't expect to complete your application in one sitting.
A referee is someone who gives evidence of your good character, past achievements or experience. This evidence is commonly known as a reference or a letter of recommendation. If an academic reference is required, your referee must be someone from school or an approved higher education provider (uni, TAFE etc).
Understanding the reason for the referee will help your referee to know what they need to write about that will best help your application.
Handy Hint: Give your referee as much time as possible as they are likely to be busy and will appreciate warning!
Personal statement and cover letter
A well written personal statement and cover letter can help to increase your chances of standing out from other applicants and are usually the sole means of personally expressing your determination, achievements and goals. Make sure your tone is positive and expresses your motivation.
Things to include:
- Examples of why the course you wish to study means something to you
- Extra-curricular activities & community involvement during your later high school years
- Long term goals; any interest you might have in pursuing a career in your area of study
Things to avoid:
- Statements that are handwritten. Type up if possible
- Talking about achievements from too long ago– for example, from the first two years of high school or from primary school
- Writing less than one full A4 page
- Saying things that are untrue
Get your application in before the closing date
Find out the application closing date for each scholarship you are interested in before you begin your application process.
The date is different for every scholarship! In some cases, the closing date for the application will not be published online. If this happens, contact the university/institution offering the scholarship directly to find out.
If a scholarship requires that you apply through a Tertiary Admissions Centre like UAC; it is still a good idea to contact the university to confirm how long you have to apply.
Have correct contact details
Ensure that you will be easy to contact and that the addresses and phone numbers provided in your application are current.
If you do not have a private email address, consider creating one and check your email regularly as you may receive important information or requests for additional information.
Handy Hint: If you are in Year 12, you may not be able to access your school or college email after your final exams to receive advice of offers and acknowledgements of applications.